How to Start Your Cannabis Career

Be part of the KindPeoples crew!

Be part of the KindPeoples crew!

Imagine working with cannabis all day, helping people discover how to select, use and enjoy this most beneficial plant. Sounds like a dream gig, right? Well, that dream is now a reality, so get prepared to pursue your bliss with a weed-friendly job!

California’s newly legal cannabis industry expects to expand rapidly due to adult-use law reform, with many people seeking to join this exciting marketplace. If you’re looking for a new career path that allows you to express your passion for the plant, consider applying to a local dispensary. As we’ve seen from Colorado’s experience, legal cannabis transformed the state’s 8% unemployment rate to just 2.9% in the years since 2012, with CNBC reporting that “its biggest problem now is managing the massive growth of Denver.” Much of that growth centered on retail jobs, as well as growing and manufacturing cannabis products.

As the sixth largest economy in the world, the potential for legal cannabis in California outpaces Colorado considerably, with the value of the legal market estimated at 5 billion dollars by 2019. The increasing social acceptance of cannabis means that many new jobs will open up in the next few years, with data analysis firm New Frontier estimating that “by 2020 the legal cannabis market will create more than a quarter of a million jobs,” and that nationwide legalization could create up to one million jobs.

KindPeoples staff on the day our licenses for adult-use sales were received.

KindPeoples staff on the day our licenses for adult-use sales were received.

If you’re interested in getting one of those jobs, then working at a dispensary is a good place to start. You’ll gain valuable experience with cannabis products as well as the basics of retail business, with plenty of positions available that need responsible workers. Starting out as a “budtender,” or cannabis consultant, is just one job title among many in a dispensary, where departments include security, reception, processing, marketing, administrative, human resources, compliance officers and much more. Many dispensaries promote internally, so establishing yourself as a trustworthy and loyal entry-level employee is key to advancing to higher management level opportunities.

Launch your cannabis career with these helpful tips on what to include in your resume, how to avoid common interview pitfalls, and what you should look for in a potential employer.

By the way, KindPeoples is hiring, so please consider applying for available positions! We offer competitive rates, employee benefits and a diverse range of opportunities.

KindPeoples staff works hard, but we also take time to enjoy the beauty of Santa Cruz!

KindPeoples staff works hard, but we also take time to enjoy the beauty of Santa Cruz!

Budtenders and Beyond

It takes a lot of work to keep a dispensary functioning, making the friendly customer service from knowledgeable consultants just one part of the overall business. While security, receptionists and budtenders are the public face of retail cannabis, there’s plenty that goes on behind the scenes too, so learn about the other jobs available at modern cannabis stores with this handy guide.

Cannabis Consultant

Also known as budtenders, these customer service positions require solid knowledge, including research and experience with the products, science, and culture of cannabis. You should be patient, friendly, welcoming and consider yourself a “people person” in order to excel at this job, where you’ll be guiding customers in selecting the right product for their needs. Committed budtenders frequently rise through the ranks to be promoted to floor managers and store managers, since its the most direct career path to understanding retail operations.


Greeting people at the front desk is the primary responsibility of receptionists at cannabis stores, but there’s more office management that goes into this type of job. Understanding phone systems, computer servers, and internal databases is key to functioning in a key role. This is a great role for organized people who enjoy doing customer service.


Keeping everyone safe while also maintaining an approachable but not intimidating vibe is the main responsibility for dispensary security professionals. With cash and cannabis on premises, security guards must be friendly but alert, checking customer IDs and monitoring security cameras. These types of job require very trustworthy individuals who enjoy protecting and serving cannabis customers and other staff members.


Who breaks up the wholesale pounds of cannabis into the small gram jars that you might buy? Who rolls literally hundreds of joints every day? The unsung heroes of dispensary operations, processors must really, really love weed. This isn’t a public-facing job at all, so it’s suited for more introverted people who might not be comfortable talking with customers all day, but it requires patience, trustworthiness and extreme attention to detail.

Inventory Controller

Climbing the ladder of dispensary operations, the Inventory Controller is often promoted from a processor or consultant position to a more integral role in keeping the shelves stocked. At this level, solid business management experience is ideal, with competency in managing spreadsheets and tracking systems, as well as maintaining clear communication with floor managers and product buyers.

Cannabis Product Buyers

Often the most sought-after position in the dispensary world, buyers do much more than evaluate beautiful buds all day. Negotiating with vendors and setting the prices on cannabis requires deep understanding of desirable product characteristics, market trends and cannabinoid science as well as a discerning palate and a very calm and collected personality. Buyers frequently start out as processors or consultants, learning everything about quality cannabis and marketplace demands through years of hands-on experience.

How to Interview Successfully

Applying and interviewing for these dispensary jobs requires just a bit of common sense. Hiring managers aren’t interested in hearing how many edibles you can eat or how often you smoke, but they are more interested in meeting genuinely friendly, engaging, passionate people.

Be professional, courteous and prompt, arriving at least five minutes before an interview and never, ever flake out! Showing up on time, having a positive attitude and being a trustworthy person are a few things that require absolutely zero special skills or talent. While the dispensary environment is very welcoming to folks with tattoos, colored hair and body piercings, you should still dress professionally and maintain excellent personal hygiene to be seriously considered for any job where you’re interacting with customers.

For entry-level gigs, managers are looking for people who are passionate about cannabis, with stable housing and transportation, and a firm commitment to showing up on time, learning new things and following company protocols.

That’s it! Best of luck to all you job-seekers, and don’t forget to have a friend proofread your resume!